After launching one of the hottest Android phones in recent years, Essential came to a sad end following the Andy Rubin controversy. The company still has a cult following and many still use the Essential PH-1 despite it no longer being supported. These users will be delighted to learn that a group of former employees are now part of a new company called OSOM Products, founded by Essential’s head of R&D. Jason Keats.
According to LinkedIn, OSOM has been up and running since February, although we don’t know how far they are from unveiling a tangible product. Their description on LinkedIn says they’re “building the next round of craziness,” whatever that means. Keats has been talking about the new company on Twitter for a few months now, and we know that many of his recent hires are former Essential employees – check out the tweet below:
Gary Anderson and Jean-Baptiste Theou are both software engineers and Nick Franco is a camera engineer. Kevin Chen is a Chief Product Officer who takes on the role of Director of NPI and Supply Chain, Wolfgang Muller is the new CMO of the new company. Wilson Chan was Essential’s chief operating officer, and while we don’t know his role at OSOM, it seems likely the same will be true. It’s a pretty solid core team, one we’d expect to use their expertise in building a smartphone, although that’s still guesswork at this point. A very basic site for business exists, but only with a form so you can sign up for updates.
We also know of a high profile recruit who is not a former Essential man, and this is probably the most important. Andrew Zalasin was installed as CEO of OSOM, which thankfully means Andy Rubin is not at the helm. That gives the tech startup half a chance of succeeding, as long as it can shake off any lingering associations.
Keats said the company plans to introduce 20 to 30 new employees by the end of the year so it will be interesting to see how OSOM evolves. The team is apparently hard at work on a new vision, which is more than a little intriguing. When Essential was shut down, we knew it was about to launch a new phone called GEM with a weirdly long/thin form factor and we also got to see prototype PH-2 and PH-3 devices. Maybe OSOM will resurrect these products in some form, or maybe they’ll do something completely new. Anything that comes out of the team indicates “crazy”, “wild” or “innovative” material, but only time will tell.
UPDATED: 09/04/2020 6:30 AM PDT BY SCOTT SCRIVENS
More details on OSOM from the founder himself
Our very own Artem Russakovski had a founder-to-founder chat with OSOM’s Jason Keats, allowing us to shed some more light on the company and its plans. Above all, we can confirm that Andy Rubin will have no involvement with OSOM products – neither as an employee, nor as an investor, nor as an advisor. Keats started working on the startup late last year, but it wasn’t officially founded until May this year and its first hires came in June. From Monday next week, OSOM will have a total of 11 employees, eight of whom were previously at Essential. We know there was a round of funding, but that’s it – there’s no information on individual investors or the size of funds raised.
When asked if the OSOM team would work primarily on hardware or software, Keats responded by saying he believes the best user experiences only come from a holistic approach encompassing both. This suggests we’ll see a phone or other device from the company with its own software spin, possibly (but not necessarily) built on Android. Keats is understandably tight-lipped about current plans, but he said he’d like to avoid some of the mistakes he’s seen at Essential, one of which was getting to market before a product was fully ready. This philosophy alone gives us reason to be optimistic.
A more formal brand launch will take place over the next few months, but don’t expect any product announcements until 2021 at the earliest. We’re certainly looking forward to seeing what they can bring to the table.
Thank you: Robert Barber
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